Social Media – To Hire or Not to Hire

Should we use information about candidates posted on social networking sites to help us make recruitment decisions?

In my view, no – what people do in their social life is not a reason for a person to be hired, fired, promoted or demoted.  I see lots of problems with this area and many legal cases that will fall in the favour of the candidate.

For example, as I am now 47, my mind is getting to the stage where I sound like my parents did when giving advice to my own son (scary).  As a 47-year-old who is progressing into being a stereotypical old fart, am I too far from the days when I went on topless booze cruises in Kavos in my 20s to meet young ladies to recognise that some 20 years old’s two-week booze-filled holiday in Ibiza is no different? I think the answer is, much as I would like to think I am still hip and I still listen to house music, I am out of touch, and so I am unqualified to judge the holiday habits of the current 20-year-olds.

Moreover, I think too many people recruit from ivory towers.

That is to say, we have some impossible standards for candidates to be measured by in many cases.  Despite the need to hire, many interview or application processes are still designed to screen people out and not into a role.  With that underlying tension to find the right person/people, is it really wise to add another layer of screening?

How far does it really work?

There are 150,000 jobs for social workers in the UK as I write this post and about 130,000 qualified social workers.  The demand for social workers then outstrips supply – are you telling me you are gonna screen them based upon their social media posts?  If you don’t, and you do for others, you have inequality in your recruitment process.  Imagine that knowledge in the hands of an ambulance chaser-type lawyer when you did not hire a driver because he had 1000 images of topless women in his Facebook profile.

I am lucky

I now employ myself, but I suffer from ‘post-traumatic stress disorder’ (PTSD), which is a form of mental illness, and it has had many effects on my life none of which has impacted my work.  Though I don’t suffer fools gladly and have terminated some fool clients who did not pay me.  If I were to give a potential employer access to my FB account, where my group of mates and I chat on my needs from time to time, they would get a view of me that is not necessarily in line with the employee me.  Plus mention mental illness and people tend to run a mile, so how can PTSD sufferers be assured of a fair screening?


So what is next? Do female managers who might hire men need to speak to their wives, past girlfriends, etc?  Can a woman who has been married 5 times be considered a commitment risk?  It just gets so silly it is scary – but this is the reality of access to people’s personal lives.  My view is stick with the skills testing and whether the personality fits your style of working, lest the candidate ask to see your social profile to know if you are who you say you are!!!

Darren Revell